"What are you trying to protect your players from? Fun?"
I read this in an Al Pacino voice for some reason and now the whole thing is pretty much written by him in my mind.
I really loved all these ideas and to be honest I think the next 10 years of MMOs will bring this stuff in slowly. Excellent write up, thoroughly enjoyed reading it. You should blog more - your rage is pretty hilarious. :D
All this stuff, great ideas. Could truly change gaming. I believe that when MMOs reach this level of immersion and interactivity it will take over the gaming scene. Giant worlds all completely interactive, a game so popular that it becomes culturally a world in itself. Hopefully, one day, a game will do this. And maybe, just maybe, it will be based around virtual reality. Can you even fugging imagine?
In regards to "starting a new character" for people of different levels to play together, something FFXI and FFXIV did to solve this problem is fairly simple and I'm surprised more MMOs don't make use of it: there's a Level Sync feature that matches everyone's level in a group to the lowest level member and scales equipment down accordingly. It allows everyone to gain EXP and quest around as if they were that level, gaining EXP toward their actual level, so they're not sacrificing anything in the process.
For as hardcore as FFXI had the reputation of being, the creation of that feature was incredibly respectful of a player's time and desires. More MMOs should just straight-up copy it.
I never played EVE for a significant period of time to properly learn the mechanics of that game but alot of what you described can be found there.
This is why i don't think this will ever happen in a big budget game because all of these systems will be incredibly intricate to convey to the players and will alienate a big part of the population that don't want to spend an unreasonable amount of time in a game.
This works for EVE because it is relatively low budget and simple to build content for with space being the only environment and the only thing they mostly add is new ships and more mechanics.
I wish the MMO you describe could be done but i have my doubts about the viability of such a beast.
FFXI did (still does, I guess) a lot of this stuff. Presumably also EQ et al, but I never played those games.
I do wish someone out there would make a truly hardcore MMO. I think WoW's ubiquity could bring back the hardcore experience since the audience has ballooned and become well-trained at how these games work. That means that new MMOs could be more complicated and players would be more OK with it. Unfortunately it's unrealistic to really expect that given the budgets involved.
I'm sure it would probably ruin the franchise, but I would be extremely intrigued by an MMO in the Dark Souls universe.